I have had difficulty with the teaching about prayer for many years. I try to pray, but I think to myself, "Why bother since what will be will be, and I often don't get an answer to my prayer - either negative or positive, that I can discern?"
I was reading my Bible this morning and had a little light shine that I thought I'd share. I was reading 1 Kings, chapter 3, where Solomon has a dream and God asks him what he would ask for. This, to me, is similar wording to Luke 11:9-13 where Jesus tells the disciples that whatever they ask for, they will receive because, after all, God is the best father and would he give a scorpion when asked for bread?
I've always read this - in Luke - and thought I must be doing something wrong because I understand at a gut level that God isn't a gumball machine - put in the quarter and out pops your wish. He isn't a genie, although I have often daydreamed about rubbing a lamp and having a genie pop out, who asks me what I desire - three wishes perhaps? I always thought that my first wish would be that I could have all my subsequent wishes forever granted - thus saving me from the problem that characters in genie stories often have of screwing up their wishes and then running out.
Anyway - I digress.
I noticed when I was reading the verses in 1 Kings 3:5-11, that God was very pleased because Solomon asked for wisdom - not for himself, or for the sake of wisdom itself, but for his "job" as king and judge for all the people of Israel. Here's the kicker that opened my eyes - because Solomon prayed for something that would benefit others, something eternally of value (not food for everyone in his land, or other perishable things), he was granted that wisdom. Prayer answered. And, oh by the way, God added riches and wealth merely because Solomon hadn't asked for anything for himself.
Now I'm not saying that the formula is to ask for others while slyly waiting for God to add the addendum of "stuff" for oneself. I'm saying that I have not understood prayer for a long time.
I'm still trying to figure it out. But, when I pray for financial assistance, perhaps what I should be praying for is the wisdom and capacity to handle the finances I presently have - and the wisdom and ability to find my way out of any financial difficulties I might have.....rather than praying for a Lotto win, for example. Perhaps God would answer that prayer.
Perhaps when I am praying for God to move us to another locality, I should be praying for the wisdom and ability to deal with where God has me now, and to see with Godly discernment the path for my future.
I have to say, I'm just scratching the surface here - it's as if I just dipped my toe in a very deep stream. I need to dive in to find out the depths of the true answer about prayer - at least for myself.
So stay tuned.